Councilman Robert Catalanello & council candidate Patrick Rowe discuss the infrastructure work spearheaded by Councilman Catalanello, and the need to maintain the momentum now that we have reversed the neglect of the past.
The health of our physical infrastructure is a major measure by which we are judged as a governing body. Over the past three years we have seen a great improvement in Madison's infrastructure - Roads and storm water management issues that had been neglected for decades, like the streets in the Oak Knoll section of town, were addressed, and many other main roads were repaired as well. But that is just what resident can see.
Upon taking office in 2011, Councilman Catalanello went to work on improving efficiencies in our construction process and prioritizing projects for borough. One of his first initiatives was to form the Construction Review Committee. This committee is comprised of borough administration and engineering, department heads, and skilled residents in town. It functions to prioritize capital projects across departments on a risk weighted basis so that our most crucial projects are completed first. It also works to reduce the cost of these projects and the time it takes to get the work done by 1.) Performing detailed reviews of the scope and costs of the projects, and 2.) Having Madison workers complete as much of the work as possible prior to bidding it out.
One significant accomplishment of the Construction Review Committee was on the reconstruction of Green Avenue. Before the project was sent out to bid the committee reviewed it. Working with the department heads and community volunteers, Councilman Catalanello realized the project had flaws and was underfunded. Together with the Mayor and the rest of the council, a decision was made to postpone the project and request a redesign. At the same time a request was made for matching funds from the state, which Madison received. As a result of Mr. Catalanello’s oversight and planning we have a stronger design while saving taxpayers’ money.
Compare this to what had happened over the period from 2003 through 2009. Despite massive tax increases and incremental borrowing of $31,000,000, our roads and sewers were left in an appalling state of disrepair. In 2011 the Construction Review Committee quickly determined that urgent work was required on our main sewage pumping stations and our sewage forces mains. Based on this, Councilman Catalanello led the effort to identify, prioritize, and encumber funds to remediate this potentially catastrophic problem. Much of the work has already been completed, and the rest is underway.
Although the borough has made a good start, there’s still a lot of work to do. The sewage treatment plant we share with Chatham will need a major upgrade shortly, and we still have miles of roads and sewers left to repair. The good news is that Madison has a means to pay for this when the Electric Utility’s surpluses grow dramatically next year. When that happens, it is important that we dedicate the additional surpluses to continue the critical work of infrastructure repairs. The improved capital project planning, process improvement and additional oversight which Councilman Catalanello initiated, yielded excellent results and must be continued.
We look forward to meeting and speaking with Madison voters between now and Election Day – November 5, about our ideas and theirs about how we will address our ongoing infrastructure needs, and the funds to finance the projects.